December 18, 2017
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Police arrest Brewer woman accused of Pokemon Go-related hit-and-run

By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff
Updated:

BANGOR, Maine — Bangor police arrested a Brewer woman accused of intentionally driving her vehicle into a pedestrian who had been playing Pokemon Go with a group of people near the U.S. post office — a Pokestop — downtown Sunday night.

According to witnesses, a 37-year-old Bangor man was injured about 9:53 p.m. when he was hit by Jeannie Chapman, 36, in the crosswalk of Franklin Street, at its junction with Hammond Street, Bangor police Sgt. David Bushey said Monday. Chapman then drove away, witnesses told police.

“He was playing Pokemon Go with a group of friends prior to being struck by the vehicle,” the detective sergeant said in a news release. “The man was subsequently treated by Bangor Fire Ambulance crews and released without transport to the hospital, at his own request.”

One witness got the license plate number for the 1999 Toyota Corolla Chapman was driving, and she was located in Brewer about 30 minutes after the incident, the police report by Bangor police Officer Zachary Carey states.

Chapman was found by Brewer police and charged by Carey with aggravated assault, which is a Class B crime that carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison if she is convicted. A second charge, reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, a Class C crime, was later added, according to the criminal complaint filed in court Monday. A Class C crime carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.

Chapman was taken to Penobscot County Jail. On Monday, her bail was set at $1,500. Her bail conditions, if she is released, include no use or possession of alcohol, no contact with the witnesses, and the judge set an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew.

“I heard yelling,” Adam Spanks of Hermon, who told police he witnessed the incident, said Monday.

Spanks, who was playing Pokemon Go with his wife in a separate group, said the woman was driving the car on Franklin Street and stopped short of the crosswalk.

“She said, ‘Do you want to get hit?’ Then the guy yelled something back that I didn’t catch. The woman [driver] backed up a good 20 feet or so, sped forward and hit him and sped off up the hill,” he said.

“The man went up and over the car, and it looked like he hit his head or shoulder or something,” Spanks said. “I instantly started running toward the scene.”

The injured man told Carey that Chapman stopped and started honking the horn as his group used the sidewalk and then rolled down the window and said, “Can you [expletive] go, or do you want me to run you over?” before putting her car in reverse, backing up, then hitting him with her vehicle. His response to her question was, “whatever,” according to his girlfriend, who ran to the sidewalk after the alleged threat.

Chapman, when first interviewed by police, initially said she had been in Milford all night but later said a man “jumped in front of her car and punched her vehicle,” Carey’s report states.

A star pattern and large crack on the left corner of Chapman’s windshield is “similar to what a head would make,” and an imprint on the hood of the car is “similar to what a body would make,” the arresting officer noted.

An off-duty nurse and a paramedic, who happened to be parked at the post office playing the mobile phone game, tended to the injured man, Spanks said.

Pokemon Go players use smartphones or other mobile devices to catch virtual Pokemon characters that appear to pop up on their screens. There was a large group of players downtown when the incident occurred, according to police. There are two other Pokestops in the same area as the post office — one at the mural inside the historic Penobscot County Courthouse and one at The Fiddlehead Restaurant on Hammond Street — that attract players. Crowds of people playing Pokemon Go have been found sitting on the grass outside the old courthouse having a “lure party” most nights since the game was launched just over two weeks ago.

The game has been blamed for a number of car crashes and mishaps involving distracted players, including two youths from Canada who earlier this week made an illegal border crossing into Montana while playing Pokemon Go, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol said.

Spanks said he posted information about Sunday’s incident on the Pokemon Go Bangor Maine And Surrounding Areas Facebook page as a warning for others to be careful and mindful of their surroundings.

“I just want to make people aware that no matter if you are in the crosswalk or not, there are people out there who don’t care,” he said.

He said most of the time people — drivers and players, namely — are not paying attention when the collisions or mishaps occur, but that was not the case Sunday.

“She came to a complete stop and then pulled forward — that is where the line was crossed,” Spanks said of the hit-and-run.

“This game is supposed to be harmless fun,” he said.

BDN writer Judy Harrison and Reuters contributed to this report.


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